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Lakes Region club hits the snow for annual Radar Run

Getting a bit of air as he raced along the track at Webster Lake, this snowmobiler was one of nearly 100 participants from all over the state who one by one did their best to reach top speeds at the 14th annual Radar Run last Sunday. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
February 03, 2011
FRANKLIN — Hundreds of winter-loving thrill seekers were out on the ice of Webster Lake last Sunday afternoon to either watch or participate in the 14th Annual Radar Run, sponsored by the Lakes Region Snowmobile Club to benefit New Hampshire Easter Seals.

"It's really an adrenaline rush to get up to speed so quick like this," said Josh Gammon of Tilton.

Gammon was one of over 100 participants in the day's snowy drag race, as one by one drivers sped along the 660-foot track across the lake while a radar gun clocked them. Gammon said he tries to come out every year for the event, despite a brief hiatus in Florida.

"It's a lot of fun, and snowmobiling has such a short season. I don't get into it like some of the people do, but I do all right every year," he said.

Trail Manager Alan Carignan and the LRSC had to make the tough decision to move this year's venue after ice conditions proved unsafe on Griffin Beach where it is normally held. For the first time they relocated the event to Legassie Beach off Route 11 where ice conditions were better. He was apologetic about the move but said the ice forced their hand at the last minute.

"It becomes a challenge some years to maintain a trail we can ride on safely," Carignan said.

Club president Steve Proulx said this year's event was destined to be a bit slower than past Radar Runs due to the snowy conditions on the lake but spectators would still get a good look at what some of the larger class machines could do when allowed to run wide open across the lake.

"Ten years ago we had a perfect ice track out here and some of the high performance sleds really flew in those conditions. Our top speed was 123 mph that year," Proulx said.

For the 2011 Radar Run top machines still hit speeds of over 90 mph as they rocketed one by one down the cordoned off track before a crowd of over 200 people.

Although the majority of participants were adults, young enthusiasts joined in the fun as well. Six-year-old Freddy from Londonderry and his 4-year-old brother Jameson were among the youngest to test their skills against the radar gun. Their grandmother Wendy stood trackside with her camera, eager to see how the boys would do in their first ever speed event.

"Freddy was so excited to do this and told me he was going to be able to do 12 (mph)," she said with a smile.

Little Freddy exceeded his expectations and was clocked at 14 mph by the time he reached the end of the track. He was disappointed he had to borrow his little brother's machine to stay within competition regulations for children but said it was a fun experience nonetheless.

"I like the speed, the fun, all of it. I just like everything there is about snowmobiling," said Freddy.

A $5 donation was requested for each participating snowmobile along with $10 for a single run or $20 for three runs. People lined up to get their opportunity to win cash prizes as the fastest in their division or just some good old bragging rights amongst their friends.

In the end, it was all for a good cause. Proulx said his club has taken on Easter Seals as their charity of choice and a portion of the day's proceeds would be donated at the annual Easter Seals Ride-In at the Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch next weekend.

"We do a number of events throughout the year to benefit Easter Seals, this being the biggest, and we'll take the money up to present to them at the ride-in again this year," he said.

Additionally there was an Antique/Vintage Sled show and plenty of good food to keep the crowds happy. Mike Robinson, deputy fire chief for the Tilton-Northfield Fire Department and a member of LRSC, was busy over the flames of an open grill cooking hot dogs, burgers and sausage. There was also plenty of hot chocolate and coffee to warm those standing on the snow and ice all day.

The Lakes Region Snowmobile Club began in Tilton in 1966 and was one of the first chartered snowmobile organizations in the state, said Proulx. Original meetings were held in Sanbornton and eventually the club moved into Franklin where today it has a membership of over 100 residents from around the region. The Radar Run, one of their major fundraisers for the year, is organized by a team of volunteers with the cooperation of several outside agencies, including local businesses, town officials, fire departments and New Hampshire Fish and Game.

"There are a lot of hours and a lot of effort and hard work that goes in to putting this event on. We do everything we can to make it a safe and enjoyable day," Proulx said.

Top prize winners this year were Ryan Grevior, Ralph Dudley, Shawn Sullivan, Gary Chaffee, Kyle Farmer and Jamie Dubois in the stock divisions and Joseph Noonan had the fastest time for a wheeled entry. Rich Stevens, Kody Sorrell, Ralph Jarvis, Joe Jarvis and once again Jamie Dubois topped their divisions on modified snowmobiles where Dubois set the day's top speed of 93 mph in the unlimited class.

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